Janet Perlick is the co-chair of this year's Carbon Valley Relay for Life.Perlick
is a 10-year cancer survivor.Carbon Valley Relay for Life co-chair Janet Perlick said organizing the local fundraiser for the American Cancer Society has become her passion.
"The theme for this year's event is, â€˜Superheroes,' and they (cancer survivors) really are heroes," she
said."It is just devastating to get that diagnosis.To still be around, they are heroes."
The fourth annual Carbon Valley Relay for Life will be June 21 and 22 at Hart Park in Firestone.Last year's event raised nearly $40,000 locally for the ACS
, and involved 18 area teams.Janet, who works as a Realtor at Zadel Realty in Firestone, said she hopes to involve even more members of the community this year.
The national theme for this year's relay is, â€˜Celebrate, Remember, Fight Back,' Janet
"We need to celebrate as survivors, we need to remember those who didn't make it and we need to fight back," she
"It is a struggle to survive this."
One morning nearly 10 years ago, Janet
woke up and noticed the skin on her
chest had an unusual yellow tint.Her
husband, Jim, suggested she
make a doctor's appointment. Janet
, a Fort Lupton High School graduate, just moved back to Colorado from Chicago with her
husband.They had only been here for a couple of months, she said, so she didn't yet have a doctor in the area. She
located a clinic and went in to see the doctor.She
almost went home before seeing the doctor, she
said, but her
husband convinced her
After looking over Janet's blood work, the doctor found that her
liver levels were sky high.She
proceeded to have an ultrasound, a cat scan and an endoscopy.The doctors thought she
may have gall bladder disease or hepatitis.
Days later, when she
got a phone call from a doctor she
had never met, Janet
was floored.The doctor told her she
had a tumor and she
needed to make an appointment to see a surgeon.
Numb and confused, Janet
called the surgeon, who said she
couldn't be seen until the end of the month.She
called the doctor back and told him, who said he
would try to get her
an earlier appointment because he
needed to be seen sooner. "When the doctor called back and said I had an appointment with the surgeon in 45 minutes, I knew it was bad," she said.Janet
had a tumor in her
The doctor told her
, at age 39, she
was very young to have this type of pancreatic cancer, but that it couldn't be ruled out.
"It has a big long name and I never bothered to learn it," Janet
said."I wasn't going to take ownership of it."
To this day, Janet
carries a slip of paper with the name of the cancer written on it, just in case she
has to fill out papers regarding her
still hasn't memorized the name.
It was 30 days from the day Janet
first walked into her
doctor's office with yellow-tinted skin until her
Janet's surgeon performed a complicated procedure, called a Whipple.The Whipple surgery is the surgical removal of the head of the pancreas, the duodenum (part of the small intestine), part of the common bile duct, the gallbladder and sometimes a portion of the stomach.
This surgery is dangerous, Janet
said, and can sometimes cause complications with the stomach and other organs.
Upon awakening, in her
groggy state, Janet
looked around the hospital room at her
family members.They were crying.
"I didn't know what was wrong," she
At first, Janet
was hesitant about her
husband's insistence to make the travel plans, but then decided she
was determined to go.
"My husband told me, â€˜Janet, we're going to whip this,'" she
took the diagnosis hard at first.She
"I'm a woman of faith, but I was pretty mad for a couple of months," she
said."I was mad at God.I thought, â€˜I'm a pretty good person.What is up with this?'"
spent five weeks at home recovering from her
mother, Jorie, would come over to try to get Janet
to eat and to assist her
in getting around the house.
would come over and help me, and I thought, â€˜I don't want to die before her
.I don't want her
to have to bury her
For six weeks, Janet
had radiation treatments and chemotherapy together.She
had to wear a chemotherapy pack, so she
could get the chemo 24/7.
...Eventually, Janet was finally able to go back to work in the printing and engraving industry, going in for radiation treatments in the morning , then heading to work.
"You feel like you have to do something," she
endured four additional months of chemotherapy.In the meantime, she
reconnected with old friends.
"I'm so lucky to have a lot of friends praying for me," she
said the only form of unconventional treatment she
went through for her
cancer was working with a hypnotist. She
was struck by the words on the hypnotist's business card, â€˜Change your thoughts, change your life.'
told me that she
had seen a lot of cancer patients and that she
thought I was unique because I had told her
â€˜I'm battling cancer,' instead of, â€˜I have cancer,'" she
The hypnotist worked with Janet
on breathing exercises and gave her
affirmations to repeat, such as, â€˜I'm a long-term cancer survivor,' and, â€˜I reject cancer.'
"I would be driving to radiation and I'd be yelling this in my car, â€˜I'm a cancer survivor!'" she
and Jim made it to Hawaii a year after she
was diagnosed, Janet
said, though she
was weak, she
climbed to the top of a beautiful mountain, threw her
arms up in the air in victory and shouted, "I am a cancer survivor!"Janet
always considered herself a fairly upbeat person, but it wasn't until a moment in her
20s that she
realized the impact her
occasional negative comments and thoughts had on herself.
"This older guy at work told me, â€˜It's easy to find things to complain about.You have a choice, you can either look at it as the glass is half-full or half-empty,'" she
said."The light bulb just went off and I've tried to be more positive ever since."
You can only blame so much on everyone else,--make a change in your life," she
said."You can change your life, you just have to decide you want to do it.
"This could be the last day of your life, and you have to live that way," she
said."Do not put off to tomorrow what you could do today.I was 39 years old.I would have never dreamed I would have been diagnosed with cancer.You've got to take care of it today, you really do." In addition to participating in the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life for the last 10 years, and heading up this year's local event, Janet is a strong advocate for people to be responsible for their own health.She
encourages people to have regular mammograms, Pap smears, colonoscopies and check ups.
"You get afraid, â€˜I don't want to find out,'" she
said."But you've got to go and do it.There's no excuse.You just don't know." Janet
said there is a 65 percent survival rate for those who get their cancers treated soon enough.
"We have to give a lot of credit to the medical doctors, but we also have to advocate for ourselves and be persistent in our own health care," she
"It starts with yourself," she